I’ve mentioned at least once before that Cộng Cà Phê is a popular Vietnamese chain, but it’s something of an outstanding entry in that category for several reasons. First, it’s very much a theme shop, treating its patrons to a stark “wartime-style” theme. The walls and bench tables are stark grey concrete, the walls accented with rebar and coils of wire. Larger tables are wooden, antique-ish affairs, and fortunately are high enough to be comfortable for laptop work. The employee uniform is a drab green t-shirt, and that color choice extends to other accessories like drink coasters. There’s other rustic touches like old window shutters and yellowed books on the shelf, and you may see faux-sandbag stacks hiding the storage spaces. I’ll admit I’m not sure what to think, sociopolitically, about the choice of theme, but don’t worry – the people are all perfectly welcoming to Westerners. Cộng’s website proclaims it “A hipster café & lounge, established 2007.” The hipster bit might have turned me off had I read that before trying it, but I can happily say you needn’t worry too much.
This is the third Cộng location I’ve visited, and have noticed some variation among them, including in terms of price. One shop I visited was extremely crowded and noisy, while this one is very quiet and relaxed. Usually students make up most of the clientele.
As to price, I suggest going to a more out-of-the-way place like this one in Tân Bình District. I paid 30,000đ for my black coffee, but in the tourist districts you’re likely to pay 40,000 or more. Unlike most chain shops, Công’s coffee is delightfully strong and malty, and will keep me coming back. They also have a signature drink that my friend insisted I try the first time: a blended coffee-coconut concoction. It’s a bit like a smoothie, and is quite agreeable, though a bit sweet for my taste. As usual, you can also find teas, juices, smoothies, and sometimes a few alcoholic drinks. At some locations they’ll also sell you snacks like nuts and sunflower seeds.
Price: 7/10 (this location)
Verdict: I like Cộng more each time I visit. I’ll be back!